The unabated presence of the COVID-19 Pandemic has added several pages to the City of Coronado’s proverbial playbook, with new options designed to assist small businesses struggling in the city. Last Thursday, July 16, 2020, the City Council held a 51-minute Special Meeting, to consider two agenda items. The first of which was, ‘Discussion and consideration of waiving the alcohol prohibition for Spreckels Park, for the Spreckels Park Outdoor Dining Room.’
After thanking the City Council for attending the meeting called on short notice, City Manager Blair King delineated the background of the first agenda item, designed to help local restaurants, and modeled on a concept that met with success in the City of Paso Robles. “In their Central Park, they set up picnic tables, had a maître d’ escort diners to their table, and people brought food from their favorite restaurant. When they leave their table, it’s sanitized. And we want to allow people to have alcohol with their meals. This will be in Spreckels Park only, with 11 tables, and for the hours of operation we would waive the city’s alcohol prohibition in the park.”
King later added the seating period would be 90 minutes in length and the periods of operation for the Outdoor Dining Room would be Friday and Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The initial dates would be July 17-19, 2020. If the first weekend proved to be a success, it could expand for as long as the concept was successful and for the duration of the ban on indoor dining mandated by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
In a relatively short period of time, after the Council was assured no food trucks would be involved and that participation from over the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge was likely to be minimal at best, the Council voted 4-0 to pass the alcohol waiver. Councilmember Whitney Benzian was not present at the meeting.
The second agenda item, which read ‘Discussion and consideration of expanded outdoor uses regarding parking requirements, use of sidewalks, and commercial use of city parks and open spaces,’ was in reality a three-in-one topic, which covered the concluding 37 minutes of the meeting. King explained, “There are really three sub-issues. First, should we waive parking restrictions to allow businesses to conduct business in a parking lot? Second, should personal service businesses (barber shops, beauty shops and salons) operate in the public right of way on the sidewalks? And Third, should we allow businesses to operate in parks, beaches and open space in the City?”
The Council moved pretty quickly on the first two issues, allowing some local businesses, primarily exercise centers and gyms to use their parking lots to conduct business, in much the same manner as some local restaurants have set up outside dining operations. The second issue of allowing personal service businesses to operate on sidewalks outside their normal locations, was turned down by the Council, in large part due to the State of California’s prohibition of the concept. Both motions were passed by a unanimous 4-0 vote.
City Staff recommended against implementation of the third topic, which would allow businesses to use the City’s parks, beaches, and open space. Mayor Richard Bailey kicked off that discussion saying the future livelihood of some of the fitness-related firms in the city was at stake, as well as, “The mental and social health of the people they serve. I would be in favor of allowing any City park, or beach, to be used by a fitness business, with a brick and mortar location that is closed, and to delegate approval of permits to the City Manager, and waiving fees associated with that permit.” That was essentially the starting point of the discussion, and Councilmembers soon started to add restrictions.
King noted earlier during the introduction of this agenda item, “Coronado is a park-deficient city. We have three park acres per thousand residents, which is considered a deficit by the State of California. If we use the parks for commercial purposes, how do we set the criteria for prioritization and timing? We would require insurance and indemnification and a Conditional Use Permit for use of public space. All vendors would go through that process.”
One interesting wrinkle was according to Bailey, Coronado CrossFit requested the use of Bradley Field, home of Coronado Little League, due to the proximity of the field to their studio. That would allow the company to transport exercise equipment more easily to the site. The City of Coronado owns the Bradley Field, and Coronado Little League maintains the field and the facility.
Bailey made the final motion, which passed by a unanimous 4-0 vote. The motion included, “Provide temporary approval for the use of Spreckels Park, Bradley Field and the Coronado Beach for fitness classes normally located in existing brick and mortar buildings in the City of Coronado; with no sound amplification; with the size of the classes to be governed by State Health orders; the businesses could operate from 7 am to 12 noon; the delegation of approval for a Conditional Use Permit to be handled by the City Manager’s office; and the permit fee would be waived for dedicated spaces.”
The City Council held a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, July 21, 2020; the Council is dark for their normal Aug. 4, 2020 meeting slot; and the next scheduled Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 at 4 p.m. City Council meetings are held at Coronado City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in the City.